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Date of Issue: December 09, 2009

Pier demolished at Manatee public beach

Forristall Demolitionís Komat'su excavator driver exits the vehicle after the makeshift roadbed of rubble collapsed, sending him and the excavator into the water.
Islander Photo: Courtesy Rolph Huband

Through a window from her Cafe on the Beach office, Dee Schaefer has a view of beachgoers, the Manatee Public Beach pier and the seemingly endless Gulf waters.

But in the past month, demolition vehicles have obstructed that view as they crumbled and removed the pier.

“It was fun to watch them work,” said Schaefer, who along with husband Gene, holds the lease for the Manatee beach concessions, a beach shop and restaurant. “They don’t waste time it seems.”

The shop and cafe are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county’s natural resources department, said the demolition crew has until mid-January to complete the work.

“They were to remove all material above the water line to approximately a foot and a half below the water line,” Hunsicker said.

Some decking at the end of the pier remained Monday when the makeshift roadbed of rubble that leads to the pier end in the Gulf, collapsed and sent the driver and the excavator into about 5-feet of water. At presstime Monday, the operator was awaiting a crane to remove the excavator.

Hunsicker has said the pier will be replaced by a new one, but whether that pier is 300 feet long, 700 feet long, or has a T-style end, is still to be determined. A funding source also has not been determined.

The Manatee County Tourist Development Council, which has discussed funding the pier, will meet at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14 at Holmes Beach City Hall. TDC director and County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said reconstruction of the pier could be part of the list of capital improvements funded by the TDC that will be discussed at the meeting.

Holmes Beach city commissioners have discussed what they would like to see done with the footprint of the pier. All on the dais but commissioner John Monetti said they would like to see a 300-foot pier with a T-end that would give added space to fishers.

Monetti is in favor of a 700-foot pier.

Bobby Remp, a musical entertainer who plays twice a week at the cafe, said he wasn’t distracted by the demolition.

“I can drown it out,” he said. “Just turn the volume up.”